The Skamonics are a seven strong London based group of musicians who play ska, two-tone and rock steady.
With roots in jazz as well as ska, the Skamonics are skilled musicians who know how to fill a dance floor. An irreverent repertoire of modern songs given a ska treatment are all mixed up with 60s instrumentals and songs drawn from the music’s roots.
Here’s a selection from the band’s core repertoire, though we are always adding new songs.
Guns Of Navarone
Latin Goes Ska
I’m in the Mood For Love
You’re Wondering Now
Alley Cat Ska
Man In The Street
The Tide is High
Johnny Too Bad
Mambo Number 5
Can’t Get You Out of my Head
Fly Me To The Moon
10 Out Of 10
99 Red Balloons
Rudy A Message To You
My Boy Lollipop
Night Boat To Cairo
The Skamonics trace their musical roots to the birth of ska. When Jamaica’s sound system owners wanted to end their reliance on US imports in the 1960s they turned to the island’s jazz musicians. From a blend of New Orleans rhythm and blues, mento – Jamaica’s own calypso style, Rastafarian drumming and the musicians’ own jazz and swing roots came forth ska.
The unique combination of offbeat guitar chops – the ska – and a driving drum rhythm could take almost any tune and use them to keep people dancing until dawn.
Ska has been revived so often that it never goes out of fashion. The two-tone movement in the UK is often known as ska’s second wave, while third-wave ska was a US phenomenon.
The Skamonics are happy to pick and mix from the early days of ska, its successor rhythm rock-steady and two-tone. Just as the early pioneers in Jamaica did, we will take any tune we like and put a ska or rock steady rhythm on it.
We normally play one or two sets of up to an hour – though we have played for longer.
Our repertoire is a mix of ska evergreens – it is after all compulsory for all ska bands to play Guns of Navarone – and a wide mix of other material. We often try out new tunes and if they work better than ones we have played a lot then they get added to our core set.
The best way to find out what we play at a typical gig is to look at our blog posts about gigs that contain the set list that we played.
And if you want us to play a particular song for a wedding or function, then we’ll often have a go if we think it will work with our line-up and we have enough notice.
What is often most memorable at a Skamonics gig are our completely unexpected ska versions of classic songs from across the decades up to the present day such as Tainted Love, Jessie J’s Price Tag and 99 Red Balloons.
But there is nothing new about this. The Skatalites – the first ska band – biggest hit was The Guns of Navarone, the theme tune from a big 60s movie. This is all part of ska’s timeless appeal and why it works across the generations.
The Skamonics appeal is the same that first filled 1960s Jamaican dance floors – a driving rhythm section underneath, tight arrangements, thrilling horns and wild improvisation.